These are the essential resources I’ve used to sell 70,000+ fiction books over the last six years without an agent or publisher. Current as of March 20, 2019.
NOTE: I only list services I’ve actually used.
Listed price is for a complete cover (eBook and print-on-demand). Prices fluctuate due to exchange rates; they might also change. These are listed from most expensive to least; this is not a quality ranking. These designers can also create things like Facebook banners, logos and so forth. Note that some designers have long lead times, so contact them a minimum of 3 months in advance of your publication date.
- Bookfly Design ($699)
- eBookLaunch ($499)
- Bukovero ($350)
- Aero Gallerie (formerly Hynds Studio) ($350)
- Beetiful Designs ($300 for eBook only)
- 99Designs ($299+)
- Natasha Snow ($275)
- Go On Write ($45 pre-mades)
ILLUSTRATED COVER DESIGN
- Tom Edwards (varies based on complexity of illustration; my cover was ~$950) (sci-fi)
- Alberto Besi (varies based on complexity of illustration; my cover was $800)
- I recommend Vellum ($29 per book/$249 for unlimited use). Beautiful, simple and intuitive eBook & print formatting with a single click. It’s Mac only, but I use it on Windows with MacInCloud ($30 for 30 hours). It’s one of the best programs I’ve ever used.
- Scrivener ($40 Windows/$45 Mac) and Adobe InDesign ($20/mo) can also format eBooks and print interiors, but are far less user-friendly.
- Ampersand Book Interiors (~$125+ per format) custom eBook/print formatting that matches your cover branding.
- Mailchimp (free up to 2,000 subscribers): the interface is a bit cumbersome, but this is the best option for authors just starting out. Robust free plan and integrates with everything.
- Mailerlite (free up to 1,000 subscribers): cheap, and solid if all you need to send are broadcast emails.
- Convertkit ($29/mo up to 1,000 subscribers): I use this for my main pen name; well-designed interface and great feature set for more advanced users. Only downside is price.
BUSINESS & MARKETING TOOLS
- Book Report (free up to $1,000 in royalties per month; $19/mo thereafter): a much improved dashboard for displaying/analyzing your KDP sales data that requires no installation.
- Book Funnel ($5/mo): seamlessly delivers your free books (e.g reader magnets) to email subscribers. Vital for building your mailing list.
- Prolific Works ($20/mo): allows you to give away free books to Prolific Works’s readers and join cross-promotions with other authors to generate mailing list subscribers.
- Kindle Boards (KBoards) Writers’ Café: the single best indie publishing resource on the internet (free or paid).
CRAFT & MARKETING BOOKS
These lists usually devolve into useless 35 page appendixes. I’ll be frank: I read a lot of books. Most are not good. These are indispensable.
- Self Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne & Dave King
- The Fantasy Fiction Formula by Deborah Chester
- Write Better, Write Faster (series) by Chris Fox: short, punchy reads for indie authors. All six are worth picking up.
- Bookbub Ads Expert by David Gaughran: the definitive guide to Bookbub Ads.